Woman looking in the mirror while brushing her teeth.

What Happens if You Don't Brush Your Teeth Regularly?

While it’s highly recommended by dental professionals to brush your teeth twice a day, many people don’t. Whether it’s because they’ve forgotten to take a toothbrush to a sleepover, have been too tired to brush before bedtime, or have simply chosen not to, brushing can get neglected! 

But have you ever wondered about the long-term consequences of not brushing your teeth regularly? 

To put it simply, neglecting to brush your teeth regularly (even a few times a week) can have significant consequences for both your oral health and general well-being, and can, for example, lead to bad breath, staining, tooth decay and gum disease. 

Let’s look at these in more detail…

4 Main Consequences of Not Brushing Your Teeth

  1. Bad breath
  2. Staining
  3. Tooth decay
  4. Gum disease

1. Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is often related to poor oral hygiene, i.e. not brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste often enough.

This is because, when you don't brush your teeth regularly, bacteria multiply in your mouth, particularly on the surface of your teeth and on your tongue. These bacteria feed on food particles left in your mouth, producing foul-smelling gases as they break down food particles and proteins.

Neglecting teeth brushing can also lead to a dry mouth (xerostomia), which allows bacteria to proliferate, leading to bad breath.

Woman smelling her breath.In terms of time frames, it may only take a few days to 1 week of no brushing for foul-smelling breath to form. 
If you're looking for high quality dental products that will keep both your teeth and the planet clean, check out our wide range of zero-waste toothpaste tablets and eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes here. 

2. Staining 

Another common consequence of not brushing your teeth is staining, which refers to the darkening or yellowing of teeth.

When you don't brush your teeth regularly, plaque (a sticky film of bacteria, food particles, and saliva) gathers on the surface of your teeth, which can trap pigmented substances from foods and beverages, such as coffee and tobacco, leading to extrinsic staining. 

If plaque is not removed from teeth through brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar within 24 to 72 hours. Tartar is a hardened form of plaque that forms on the teeth and can attract more stains.

If your teeth are stained, there are a number of safe whitening treatments you can look at to improve the colour of your teeth. And for more natural ways, check out our blog on how to naturally whiten your teeth

3. Tooth Decay

As well as staining, when plaque isn't removed through brushing and flossing, tooth decay can occur. 

Tooth decay, also referred to as cavities, is a common oral health issue which occurs when acids produced by bacteria in the mouth attack the hard tissues of the teeth and gradually break down the tooth's structure. 

This is because plaque acids can weaken and erode tooth enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth, and as soon as the enamel is compromised, bacteria can penetrate deeper into the tooth, leading to more extensive decay.

4. Gum Disease

Gum disease is an inflammatory condition affecting the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligaments, and alveolar bone

It is mainly caused by bacteria in plaque that can irritate and inflame the gums if not removed through proper oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing.

What’s more, advanced gum disease has in fact been associated with an increased risk of various general health issues, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory infections, and adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Woman showing gum disease in her mouth.Did you know that 47% (almost half!) of all adults aged 30 years and older have some form of gum disease? 

What About The Consequences for Children?

It's just as important to brush your children's teeth as it is to brush your own. In fact, children are susceptible to tooth decay as they typically consume lots of sugary foods and drinks.

Teaching children to brush their teeth from an early age instils good oral hygiene habits that they can carry into adulthood, reducing the risk of any bad consequences and long-term health implications. 

When Should I Start Brushing My Child’s Teeth?

The general rule of thumb is that you can start to brush your child’s teeth before their first tooth even erupts. So technically, you begin with cleaning the gums.

The best way to do this is to use a soft, damp cloth or gauze pad to gently wipe your child’s gums after feedings. Once their first tooth erupts, typically around the age of six months, you can start brushing their teeth. 

To begin with, you can use a dab of fluoride toothpaste on a soft-bristled infant toothbrush. Over time, as more and more milk teeth come in, you can gradually increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized amount at around age three. 

It's important to establish good oral hygiene habits early to promote lifelong dental health, and regular dental check-ups are also crucial for monitoring oral health as your child or children grow.

Tips for Brushing Children’s Teeth

For many parents, getting your children to sit still for 2 minutes and get them to brush their teeth, or let you brush them, is no small feat. But there are a number of tips to make the process a lot smoother and more effective:

  • Make it fun - While teeth brushing isn’t top of the list when it comes to exciting activities, there are several ways you could help make it more fun and enjoyable for your child. For example, while brushing, you could play their favourite song and have a dance party.
  • Reward your child - It could be a good idea to implement a reward system to motivate your child to partake in teeth brushing. This could be as simple as giving them a sticker or a small treat after each successful brushing session.
  • Use a child-friendly toothpaste - Make sure that you choose a fluoride toothpaste specifically designed for children. These toothpastes often come in fun flavours and are formulated to be safe if swallowed in small amounts. 
  • Use a child-friendly toothbrush - You also want to opt for a soft-bristled toothbrush with a small head. Children can also use bamboo toothbrushes, as they are a safe, chemical free and eco-friendly alternative to traditional plastic toothbrushes.
Two children brushing their teeth.Discover more tips on how to brush your children’s teeth here.

When Should Children Brush Their Teeth Independently?

It is recommended that children should have help brushing their teeth until they are around 7-8 years old, as this is the approximate age that they’ll have developed the necessary skills and coordination to properly brush their teeth independently.

That said, parents should continue to watch their child brush their teeth until they are around 9/10 years old, as they may still need assistance to ensure they’re using the correct technique. As with adults, if they’re not brushing correctly, the brushing won’t be at all effective. 


Brush Fresh Co. is founded and run by a group of UK-based dentists, who specialise in environmentally-friendly and sustainable dental products. From biodegradable bamboo toothbrushes to zero waste toothbrush tablets, our product range has been designed to put both your dental health and the environment first. For more information and dental care advice, head over to our blog page or get in contact with us here.  

Written by Kate, for Brush Fresh Co.
Back to blog